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Andrew

Andrew Morgan

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: New South Wales Health And Medicine > Cancer And Oncology
Policy > Government
To investigate the options for reducing the risk of mesothelioma through government initiatives - Poland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Denmark
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Highlights and conclusions

  • There is concern about the impact of the remaining asbestos found in building materials in homes. While the countries I visited have banned the occupational use of asbestos and work on asbestos containing materials (ACMs) is regulated, the remaining asbestos stock in the residential sector is an area of concern for many. In response, countries are pursuing removal programmes (Poland and the Netherlands), and targeted community awareness to influence behavioural change to decrease this risk (Poland, UK and Italy). 

  • When discussing managing asbestos risks, all stakeholders identify that the cost of removal and replacement is the biggest issue all stakeholders. Government removal programmes are not a panacea to this challenge. Countries with removal programmes have part subsidies to support removal, but replacement is generally thought to be 80% of the cost associated with removal and replacement. The solution to this is to support industry innovations to reduce the costs of removal by identifying safe and low cost options, and to link up small removal projects at the community level to share the costs more efficiently. Representatives of the Netherlands ministry responsible for ensuring all asbestos roofs are removed by 2024 suggest that difficult targets are required to drive this type of innovation and efficiency to remove asbestos. 

  • As the bans of occupational asbestos use generally commenced in the 1980s, there is concern that the generation of workers now entering the workforce have low levels of asbestos awareness, and experts who understand the past uses of asbestos are approaching retirement or have retired. This has implications for effective asbestos identification and industry standards. Some responses to this have been to increase quality assurance at the industry level through voluntary standards and industry self-regulation approaches (eg in Denmark and the United Kingdom).
     
  • Governments are investing more in technology to assist in better management of asbestos, such as the Beware Asbestos App (created by the UK Health and Safety Executive) and the online tracking systems (LAVS) in the Netherlands. These tools tools can supply policy makers with important intelligence for asbestos safety. 

  • Researchers suggest more attention should be placed on the full range of cancers associated with asbestos exposure, particularly lung cancers. The burden of mesothelioma is significant, but if we do not account for the full extent of asbestos-related diseases, we will underestimate the impact of asbestos in our environment. 
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